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Llanberis Lake Railway & Caernarfon

Monday took us to Llanberis Lake Railway and the adjoining National Slate Museum. We arrived early enough in the morning to watch the two engines get steamed up, and got to ride on the first train of the day.

I was lucky enough to be able to show my Network Rail Spouse ID card and received a 75% discount on my ticket. A regular return ticket costs £7.20 for this five mile journey. The return trip takes an hour, and it is well worth it. The scenery is beautiful, and if you’re lucky, you can even catch Snowdon as it peeks out from the clouds!

The Llanberis Lake Railway is a narrow gauge railway. Mark was told the official size is 1 foot 11 5/8 inches, and our friend Dave told us on Wednesday that this is close enough to be considered two-foot gauge. We all enjoy narrow gauge railways very much, as that’s what Helen and Mark, Tim and I, and Dave and his family all have running through our gardens in a much smaller scale (we use 16mm to the foot, so our tracks are 32mm). One of the engines at Llanberis is blue and named “Little Thomas”, but they will claim it has nothing to do with a certain children’s story….

There’s not much else to say about Llanberis, as everything is better said in photos.

After our trip on the train, we took a quick look around the slate museum before heading off to Caernarfon, where we had lunch at the Floating Restaurant and then had a look around Caernarfon Castle.

The Floating Restaurant was fantastic. If you are trying to find it, you will need to walk the entire way around the outside of the castle and you will find the Floating Restaurant tied up close to the swing bridge. While we were eating we got to watch the bridge open several times. The food was reasonably priced and very good…and you got quite a lot for your money! During low tide, the restaurant doesn’t float, but once the tide comes in you can feel the boat sway slightly.

Admission to the castle is £4.95 for an adult, but if you have an English Heritage membership, you can get in for free. The earliest date with a reference to the castle is 1289, and it’s quite impressive how much of i is still standing. While visiting you can climb up the steps of all of the towers to see impressive views over the sea and town, walk around the castle walls, or look at the small exhibits scattered around the castle. In 1969 the castle grounds were used for the investiture of Charles, Prince of Wales and you can still see the dais where it took place in the centre of the courtyard.

The castle lawn is immaculate, largely due to the many “keep of the grass” signs, no doubt. It struck me as a little odd that people could not use the castle lawn area for picnics, games, or lounging when I am used to seeing people scattered about on the castle grounds at Lincoln, but I’m sure there is a reason behind it.

From Queens Gate (which is the gate Queen Elizabeth II entered from during Prince Charles’ investiture), you can look out over Caernarfon and see the Welsh Highland Railway. I visited the Welsh Highland Railway in September 2009 with my mom and Tim, but sadly, I never blogged about it. Something about getting engaged while visiting the UK in September and then planning a November 2009 wedding got in the way of blogging that trip.

Admission is money well spent, provided you have enough time to explore the entire grounds!

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